Thursday, January 21, 2010

Vermont College of Fine Art

I foolishly thought I would be able to keep up with my blog posts during my winter residency at Vermont College.

Silly me.

I barely checked my email during the residency, little alone having the time to post.

Vermont College offers a low-residency MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis on children and young adult literature. What this means is I spend about ten days on campus in January and then again in July.
In between, I'm home in Oklahoma. Going to work at the Supreme Court of Oklahoma, raising my two amazing daughters, doing my best to be a fun, supportive wife and somehow cramming about twenty-five hours of reading and writing into my schedule each week.

I don't watch television (much).
I don't have a social life.
I don't do housework.

But I do have the first draft of a mystery manuscript that I started in July and finished in December. And for me right now, that's more important than those things I've given up. Most days, my family agrees.

I know some other schools offer variations of this concept for other degrees. But I think it works particularly well for creative endeavors. Writing is such a solitary undertaking.
This truly offers the best of both worlds -- a community offering support and insight as well as time to write.

One Vermont College tradition is for students in each semester to pick a name for their class. This is announced at the beginning of the students' third semester. After several discussion sessions, our group finally decided on The Bat Poets, inspired by Randall Jarrell's delightful book.

During my time on campus, I attend some thought-provoking lectures, participated in a small workshop critique group with five fantastic students - Graduate Clete Smith, Margaret Crocker (entering fourth semester), fellow Bat Poet Barbara Roberts and two second semester students, Stacy Nyikos and Helen Pyne.
Our faculty leader for the workshop was the amazing Julie Larios. I read two of her poetry collections just before residency: The Yellow Elephant and Imaginary Menagerie.

They are both delightful and though the titles point to animals or fanciful creatures, in the end her poems urge us to take a look at ourselves by asking questions like what would a mermaid wish for? Both books are too much fun to miss.
In addition to all the things I learned during this residency at Vermont College, a lot of things happened in the world of childrens literature.
The ALA awards and the Edgar finalists were announced. Thanks to all the reading I've been doing for my graduate work, I've actually read many of these books prior the announcement. I'll be talking about those books and sharing my thoughts on the writing life in coming posts.

1 comment:

Okie Book Woman said...

I didn't know you were doing this. That's awesome. I'm a bit envious.